March 28, 2024
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Russia’s Central Bank Commences CBDC Testing with Digital Ruble Trials

Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project using digital rubles is set to begin its testing phase, as announced by the Bank of Russia (BoR). Starting from August 15, this pilot program will involve the participation of 13 banks and a selected group of their clients.

In a statement released on August 9, the Bank of Russia outlined that these initial tests will incorporate the participation of 13 banks alongside a limited number of their clients. This marks a significant step, according to Olga Skorobogatova, the first deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, as it facilitates the evaluation of the digital ruble platform’s performance within an industrial framework. This phase will enable the refinement of crucial processes in collaboration with clients, potential process adjustments, and the establishment of a user-friendly client experience.

Skorobogatova emphasized that the bank’s strategy aims to gradually integrate the digital ruble into everyday use, relying on the insights garnered from methodical testing and contingent on the successful completion of comprehensive trials that encompass all conceivable operational aspects of the digital ruble. The deputy governor anticipates that starting in 2025, individuals and businesses will have the opportunity to actively utilize the national digital currency as needed.

The initial phase of this pilot initiative will concentrate on streamlining fundamental procedures, including the creation and funding of digital ruble accounts (digital wallets), digital ruble transactions among individuals, straightforward automated payments, and the utilization of QR codes for purchase and service transactions. Participants in the pilot program will be able to use digital rubles for payments at 30 retail establishments across 11 cities in Russia. The objective is to expand the roster of participants by the end of 2023, encompassing both individuals and businesses.

In 2024, the range of transactions will be expanded to include additional payment scenarios using dynamic QR codes, enabling transfers between legal entities. Additionally, the scope of templates for simple automated payments will be broadened.

The launch of the digital ruble pilot was previously put on hold indefinitely since its legislation had only passed the initial reading in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly. However, Russia pushed forward with the central bank digital currency initiative after President Vladimir Putin signed the digital ruble legislation into law on July 24.

Photo by Сергей Велов on Pexels

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